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Cleanser 101: Types of Facial Cleansers

While I was composing product review for a new skin care range that I’m currently on, I feel the need to walk you through types of moisturizer and how to choose the right one for your skin type. Come to think of it, it will be a bit odd (for me) if I don’t start from the cleanser up to moisturizer. Being as random as I can be sometimes, this brings us to today’s topic – Facial Cleansers.

Cleanser 101
There are so many different type, brand, texture, function and benefits cleansers out there to choose from. Sometimes I can’t help but to wonder, is it really necessary to came out with so many type? I don’t usually go with a specific cleanser targeting a skin concern unless I have a severe breakout then only I’ll start searching for something to calm the breakout. Otherwise, I’m more into texture type of cleanser.

In today’s Cleanser 101, I’m going to walk you through basic types of cleanser for the last step in cleansing before toning. I’m also leaving makeup removers out of today’s topic because that’s going to be in another topic. Do bear in mind I’m only talking about some of the cleansers I have with me with what I think, there might be more cleanser out there and you may have different view than I do. But really, it used to be as simple as gel, self-foaming, milk and cream cleanser!


Gel Cleanser

Suitable For: Combination, oily and acne-prone skin.
Recommended Product: Antipodes Juliet Skin-Brightening Gel Cleanser, Biotherm PUREFECT SKIN Cleansing Gel, Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Daily Face Cleanser.

Cleanser 101 Gel Cleanser
Several years ago, I was recommended to use gel-based cleanser as I have combination to oily skin. The right gel cleanser with the correct pH balance could be perfect for combination to oily skin users. Some gel cleanser doesn’t foams up a lot but they do provide decent amount of foam for cleansing action. I have been on and off gel cleanser because I’m not crazy over it. It does clean my face well but due to the fact that my face oils up faster than other people, I prefer cleanser that is “stronger” i.e. exfoliating cleanser. The gel-ish texture doesn’t give me the psychological peace of mind that my face is clean. For me, I feel that all skin type can use gel cleanser. Some people do feel it’s a tad bit too dry on them but that depends on which brand / type of gel cleanser. If you are looking into trying out gel cleanser, look for one that suit your skin type.


Cleansing Milk

Suitable For: Normal, dry and sensitive skin. Some cleansing milk is formulated for oily skin as well.
Recommended Product: Clarins Cleansing Milk With Gentian

Cleanser 101 Cleansing Milk
I was debating with myself if I should include cleansing milk into this post because I use cleansing milk as my makeup remover, not as a form of cleanser. Typically, cleansing milk is meant for normal, dry and sensitive skin users as it’s a cleanser with moisturizing properties. It does not foams up at all. Some said it’s not suitable for combination or oily skin but I personally feel it is definitely suitable. As you know, some oily skin users are dehydrated on the inside so they need to hydrate their skin in order to control sebum secretion. You also need to be careful not to stripped of the skin’s natural oils therefore cleansing milk is the way to go. I was told to incorporate cleansing milk as the first part of my cleansing routine because of this reason. However, it can be too tacky thereafter so I would need to double cleanse. Dry skin user may find this step not necessary. I say follow what your skin tells you. If you feel your skin is clean and happily hydrated, just skip the 2nd cleansing step.


Self-Foaming Cleanser

Suitable For: Normal, combination and oily. Dry, very dry, sensitive and eczema-prone skin will need to beware.
Recommended Product: SENKA Speedy Perfect WhipYadah Anti-Trouble Bubble Cleanser, Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Daily Face Wash.

Cleanser 101 Self-Foaming Cleanser
Self-foaming cleanser has been a hit over recent years as it’s hassle-free, time-saving and environmental friendly as you use lesser water to rinse. It can be quite fun and luxurious to use due to the ultra-smooth foams. I wouldn’t recommend this to very dry skin users because the foam can (some don’t) dry your skin out. I think it all lies down to how long you left the cleanser on the face. I would suggest to quickly cleanse and rinse to prevent dryness. I personally didn’t encounter any dryness nor has it stripped off the natural oil from my skin. I actually kinda like the squeakily clean feel after rinsing.


Exfoliating Cleanser

Suitable For: All skin type, except for sensitive and very dry skin.
Recommended Product: Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser With Orange Extract.

Cleanser 101 Exfoliating Cleanser
My favourite cleanser of all time is some sort of 3-in-1 cleanser whereas it removes makeup thoroughly, cleanse and exfoliate at the same time. I call this my lazy cleanser. This type of cleanser is one of the best to use because it really do removes makeup completely and cleanse at the same time. The exfoliating beads is not too harsh on the skin thanks to the cream cleanser. Depending on the brand and type, some cannot be use daily. So far I’ve only tried one brand and it can be use daily. I have nothing else to say about exfoliating cleanser but everyone should give it a shot. Oh and this is also suitable for all skin type, even dry skin. A few of my friends that have dry skin said this cleanser suits them well. If you have very dry skin, you should avoid any form of exfoliating products.


Multi-Task Cleanser

Suitable For: All skin type.
Recommended Product: Philosophy 3-In-1 Cleanser For Face and Eyes.

Cleanser 101 Multi-Task Cleanser
A multi-task cleanser is an all-round removes makeup, cleanse, tone and hydrate product. It’s similar to exfoliating cleanser except that this one includes toning action and without exfoliating beads. What this means is you can skip your toner after using the cleanser. I like to use this when I don’t have heavy makeup on and when I’m in a rush. It may look like a lotion cleanser but it lathers well and does a great job in cleansing. It is somewhat a light cleanser but extremely hydrating on the skin. You can also use this on bare face itself. Not necessary when you have makeup on. However do bear in mind not all multi-task cleanser available in the market are formulated and made to be same.


Foaming Cleanser

Suitable For: Combination and oily skin.
Recommended Product: Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser With Cottonseed, Hada Labo Fash WashOxy Deep Cleansing WashOxy Anti-Blackhead Wash.

Cleanser 101 Foaming Cleansers
The most common and popular cleanser of all time is foaming cleanser. Foaming cleanser may be too drying for dry to very dry skin users so combination and oily skin tend to have better luck with foaming cleanser because it is made to deep cleanse, removing dirt, sweat, sebum, bacteria and moisturizes the skin. Usually this type of cleanser lathers very well so you only need a small pea size each use. One tube of cleanser could last you for months!  Some foaming cleanser are infused with oils or other emollients but these ingredients may not strip the natural face oil from the skin. There are tons of different types of foaming cleanser available. Choose the right one according to your budget and needs.


Hope you enjoy today’s feature on Cleanser 101. I do apologize if there is any shortcoming with the feature as it’s a last minute decision to do this post. These are just the basic types of cleanser that I’ve used personally. It can be quite confusing shopping for cleanser because there are just too many types out there. All you need to remember is to choose either gel, milk, self-foaming, multi-task or the conventional foaming cleanser. Then from there it should be easier for you to choose the specific targeting cleanser that you need.


Comments (15)

  • Love this kind of post, Fiona老师! Personally not really keen with gel cleanser, but big love with self foaming/ foaming cleanser haha!

    • LOL 老师 😛
      Means you are into foams! Gel cleanser doesn’t foam too much. I too use it on and off only 🙂

  • I’m a fan of BIOSOURCE FOAMING CREAM instead of the PUREFECT SKIN Cleansing Gel.
    Somehow, I personally like the former’s texture and that it cleans better (could be because I’m such a ‘sentimental person’ as it was my very first product from Biotherm and have been my favourite ever since. LOL! )

    I’ve tried foaming cleansers before (I think it was Loreal and Neutrogena) and I love them!
    Your post makes me wanna try them all over again!
    But the thought of the current cleansers in my bathroom makes me think twice….

    By the way, I like the O’slee Rosehip Hydra-White Cleansing Powder’s texture.
    As a 司奶, the powder form reminds me of laundry detergent… HAHAHAHAHA….

    • That’s because both cleanser are different 🙂 . One is foaming while one is gel. You know, almost all foaming cleanser I’ve tried is good. Oldies is still the best eh? O’slee one to me is like baking powder. It’s too fine to be laundry detergent lol

  • I’m now trying Philosophy’s Purity cleanser and I really love how my skin feels after using it ^_^ somehow I am still looking for a good scrub as I was told by some beauticians (after skin analysis) that I cannot skip scrub (twice a week) because my nose and forehead area is congested. Can you recommend any? I dont have any facial scrub as per now, I only have b.liv squeaky clean beads cleansing gel which i used every time I had heavy makeup on.

    • Oh yes. Scrub is very important. If you don’t remove the layer of dead skin on top of your face, skin care products doesn’t have the ability to penetrate into the skin. The one that I like is Clarins Gentle Refiner Exfoliating Cream and Himalaya Whitening Face Scrub. Himalaya one are more milder as the cream is more than the scrub beads. Clarins one is a bit chunky but it doesn’t irritate the skin. It depends on the type you want. Some like it softer, some like it conventional.

  • Yes! I love the Clarins one step gentle exfoliating cleanser!! I feel my face so smooth after using it. The scent is pleasant and not irritated. This can use daily so you no need to worry about over exfoliate.

    • I know right? It’s ridiculously good and smells so orangey good lol.

  • Love this new series! I’m a huge fan of exfoliating cleansers too and while I like Clarins’ offering, I think Nivea’s is pretty good too. It’s gentle enough to use daily and keeps my skin happy!

    • Thank you Arpita for the Nivea recommendation. I sure do need to look for more affordable exfoliating cleansers to try 😀

  • Fiona this post is really useful! There are too many types of cleanser in the market now and I always confuse with hem lol.

    • Thanks 😀 . I’m glad it helped. Now toner also a lot of types. So confusing!

      • Agreeeeee!! And there are so many pre-serum now too, my wallet is crying haha!

        • I don’t use pre-serum now. Otherwise it will be too heavy for my skin.

          • I will finish my current bottle of pre-serum and stop buying them. I don’t think they help in my skincare…..

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